Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Richard Adams: In Memoriam

I'm so crushed. The author of my favorite book, Watership Down, passed away on Christmas Eve 2016. The news was finally released today. Richard George Adams was 96 years old when he passed on. Watership Down remains my favorite story of all time and I can't believe that the genius behind it is gone.
To celebrate Adams' life and to remember him, I've created a video of his works and inspirational quotes.
And, just as I said in the Project: Sherlock video, I do not own the music or images used in this video. All rights go to their respectful owners. 
Enjoy!

R.I.P. Richard Adams.....

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Or "happy Chanukah,"if you don't celebrate Christmas like I do.

So, it's 12 a.m. where I am and I'd promised myself I'd do some sort of Christmas post. I'm on a family trip right now and brought a book in case I have trouble sleeping tonight, and I'll have an update on that eventually, but this post is just a holiday-related post.
It's officially Christmas Day where I live and, I suppose due to the supposed loss of innocence as one grows older, I have to confess that I feel like this day has lost the magic it used to have when I was a child. I suppose I shouldn't bellyache too much, I still love this holiday and I know I'm very lucky to have wonderful friends and family to celebrate it with, but.... I don't know. It's just not the same anymore.
Why is it that, as one grows older, life goes much faster?
Why is it that Christmas does not feel as magical as it used to?
Why is it that I want to look at life through the eyes of a child, but society forces me to grow up?
I'm sorry. I'm tired and I'm ruminating on these things. How my mind races at midnight sometimes! I feel like I can never sleep the night before Christmas, especially. My mind is a gem, but it's a curse, too.
Not sleeping in my own bed doesn't help matters.
But this is a holiday post, so enough about me. I thought I'd share a piece I wrote about two years ago:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot weep, yet I can weep tears of gold. I can watch the stars kiss one another in a cheerful dance amid the nightly heavens as you stand beside me and I want to do something, but the music is too beautiful to allow me to move, let alone hold a hand. You, on the other hand, are brave, as a silver glow sneaks up my way and you give me the gift of the silent night. I blink and it is still night. But it is Christmas Eve. I fall to the earth and allow my golden tears to fall as you fall beside me and your tears are silver. I dry my eyes with a makeshift cloth I made from old sand paper and cotton. And I do not care if it may hurt my eyes, for the starlight has fallen upon it, and I shall never allow anything to harm me tonight. The starlight rises from the cloth and embraces us as you enfold me in your arms. You fall into my arms and your ghostly mist embraces me lovingly and I try to kiss you, but I taste fumes of a kindling chimney fire in the air. I do not care. I allow you to reappear and beg you to take me with you. Your finger on my lips silences me as night bleeds into day, as snow falls on to our gold and silver tears.
I want something more.
Something different, something new, something great. An angel has fallen to the ground and as I look upon his chest, I see you rise to your feet and wink at me. And I remember that it is Christmas. The locket was given to me by a mystery man. Yet all of a sudden I have solved the mystery and I know what is happening. I unhook it from my neck and put it around the neck of the fallen angel, whose cheeks are a rosy red and bleeding rose petals. I take one and allow a golden tear to drop upon it as your silver tears enfold me as we mourn our fallen friend. I notice children in the snow and take a closer look. And I see that they are running to me, and I recognize the children I had met years and years ago. They are struggling in so many ways. And yet they are so happy. You lay an arm around me as the fallen angel rises to his feet. The children surround him as I weep tears of gold, and you of silver. We cry until we can cry no more, and I know that my greatest wish has been granted.
The children run to you as you take them into your arms. They embrace me as your silver tears flow down your face like a waterfall. And the children follow the angel, who promises me that they will be safe with him. I kiss his cheek and wave goodbye to the children as you turn to me and take my hands in yours. Though I know you mean well, I do not want the end. I want you to remain by my side, though we both know that that is not the right thing for us to do.
You smile and your silver tear falls upon my cheek as my golden tear falls upon your hand. I caress your cheek with my hand, leaving traces of gold upon it, in farewell. You promise it is not goodbye. I wonder how. And that's when I see that the angel has left my heart locket lying in the snow. You pick it up and put it around my neck and kiss my cheek. I open the locket and see what I had never expected. You caress me with your hand as I stare, speechless.
The locket holds a note. A note bearing the words:
Hope can never be destroyed. 
I embrace you one last time, hoping with all my heart that it will all be okay. You promise it will and back away as a cloud of stars allows you to be taken away into the Christmas night. I close my eyes as you reappear beside me. And you promise that as long as I keep hope, you can never truly go away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merry Christmas! May your holiday be full of joy, peace, and love





Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is the definition of irony....
At first, I'll admit, I struggled to understand the story's aim. It's not every day you get a story set from the devil's advocate's point of view. Screwtape is twisted to the core.
I enjoyed the ironic messages shown in this correspondence. Screwtape is really, despite being an evil spirit, that "affectionate uncle" you'd want, someone who loves even when things don't go his way, and treats the world with respect, despite what one might think, that he'd have no reason to.

It's a twisted way of forcing you to look deep inside yourself and see who you are.

At one point, Screwtape illustrates a point that really stuck out to me. He is describing to his nephew a family having a picnic. He illustrates an interesting point of how some of them don't want to have the specific get-together, but do so out of politeness. He says how this burden of unselfishness builds up to the point where other problems get involved in the mind and the result is resentment toward the family.

(This point reminded me of how many times I have done this sort of thing in order to not appear selfish, and Lewis is not wrong when he writes that it ultimately leads to unhappiness.)

All in all, a great story built on irony and an ultimate guide to self-discovery that I highly recommend to those willing to see a different, yet interesting, take on the human consciousness.


Uncle Screwtape, looking as handsome as ever.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: Beyond the Door

Beyond the Door Beyond the Door by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And that's why I will never buy a cuckoo clock..... or piss off a bird....
This was very brief, but I enjoyed it all the same. Basically, the story is of a man who purchases a gift for his wife and gloats about buying it wholesale. The gift? A cuckoo clock, but no ordinary clock.
What little was given about Doris, Bob, and Larry put them in three distinct categories for me:
Larry: The self-absorbed jerk husband to Doris
Doris: The wife wishing for a better life (and a better marriage)
Bob: The lover who seems to hate the way Larry treats Doris and wants to be with her
The ending was very shocking and satisfying and, even though I can't call this my favorite Philip K. Dick story, he did do a good job here.

I thought cuckoo clocks were creepy before.... The bird popping out scares me. Now that I've seen this sentient little clock, I'm dead set against any of those old-fashioned clocks.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Review: Gravity Falls: Journal 3

Gravity Falls: Journal 3 Gravity Falls: Journal 3 by Alex Hirsch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can't believe I actually picked this up and read it cover-to-cover.

I was expecting to enjoy it, but I didn't expect there to be a solid, coherent, dark, beautifully-written story within these pages. I expected more of a how-to guide to this dramatic, surprisingly dark Disney show. Wow! The more I peruse those pages, the more I realize just how carefully thought-out the show was. It was a joy to read the Author's backstory up to realizing that his "muse" wasn't what he thought him to be. The paranoia and fear is spilled onto the pages to the point where I felt parallels to Frankenstein and that's really amazing.
I will admit, however, that I felt the first half of the book to be better than the second half. The second half really fills itself in once you've watched the series and it was a little underwhelming. I guess I should read the first half, watch the entire series, and then finish it.
And just another thing I loved: this book is dark. Really dark.
It brought me back to how deep this show's story really was. And I love how neither show nor book shy away from this.
I highly recommend this book for any fan of the show.

(Sorry about the crappy quality of the second photo. It was showing up as an error sign before, so I had to take it down and then re upload it, and it came out like this.)



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Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Different Kind of Review

This blog is called "The Writer's Library" for a reason. I write about books I love and post my own writing. But today I'd like to stray a little bit from the norm.
In my review for Titanic by Filson Young, I posted a painting from my favorite artist's soundtrack titled RMS Titanic as part of a film scores project he's been doing over the past year. On December 1, 2016, the brilliant artist behind the film scores project wrapped it up with a score about Shackleton's exploration of the Antarctic.

Need it be said that I am incredibly sad to see this project wrap up? It has inspired me more than his other project, Owl City, ever could. I still love Owl City, but there's just something so magical about exploring the darkness of the past and the hope for the future. From the survivalist stories of the sinking ships Titanic and Endurance, to the hope unmasked at the end of the Civil War in Corduroy Road and the sheer wonder of Project Excelsior, this project has inspired me as a writer and young college student to always look at life through the eyes of a child, unbiased, innocently, and wondrously. 
Because life is hard. But it is never so hard that it's worth giving up. As I listen to these scores and find myself imagining what I can, I find that it's just another book I've closed. And definitely given five stars to!
So I write this as my review of the project known as "Adam Young Scores" and I proudly give it five stars for making 2016 a year of wonder, hope, joy, and tragedy. This man has brought out my once-lost sense of childlike wonder. And I am forever grateful to him for that. Thank you, Adam Young, for taking me on this incredible spiritual journey. I hope to see you write another score again soon.....  

And if you'd like to experience the beauty of these scores yourself, please support this artist by going to www.ayoungscores.com and taking a listen. Chances are, it will take you back to that state of childlike wonder and curiosity, just as it did me. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hold

Hold. Wait until my breath slows and my heartbeats catch up to yours. We are one, yet we are separate as the sky deepens to mauve around the edges and the stars converse with each other in the night. We stand together in a holy embrace, yet there is something more spiritual than religious about it. The rose in my hair is made of stars and your hat is laced with the golden rays of the sun. Who are we? Are we still children, forced into the adult world and still white-eyed as we try to hold on to our innocence that slowly trickles away? I love you and I know you love me. You are my anchor to the beauty of the world. I kiss your cheek and my kiss is laced with moonlight as my hands bleed gold into your silver-laced fingers. You embrace me as light envelops us both. The sun is tinging the horizon as night bids us farewell and the moon smiles in parting.
I turn to you in earnest as you take the star-laced flower from my hair and gently touch my lips with your own. We stand in the brightening light glued together by our kiss. You twirl me around and we sway side to side as I embrace you tighter and smile. You run your finger across my left cheek as the world holds its breath. I smile as we amble hand in hand, chasing the sun.
Hold. The birds sing and the clouds dance as mist swirls around us and I move further away from you.
Hold. Yet while I am gone remember me as a child of the night.
Hold. Be patient as the stars take me to the rising moon.
Hold. Do not weep as I give you one last kiss.

I am spinning in the air as stars lace my heels and tears roll down your cheeks. I raise my hand in farewell as you climb the stairs made of stars and dip me. We share one final kiss as time does us part.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Project: Sherlock Rankings!

Well, here it is. To think, I started this venture just about eight months ago and here I am officially wrapping it up. I have put together a video that ranks the pastiches from #15 to #1, with #15 being the worst and #1 the best. I already said this in the video description, but I want to say it again here, just to be safe. I do not own any images or music used in the video. All rights go to their respectful owners. 

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: I Will Find the Answer

I Will Find the Answer I Will Find the Answer by Kate Workman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It feels weird not putting this book under Project: Sherlock. This may take some getting used to.
So, to start off, I have to be honest. It's not as good as Populaire was, and I honestly didn't expect it to be. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, however. No, not at all. I just couldn't connect to the message the way I could the previous novel. It is a very important message and I feel that it was presented in the best way it could be, but I couldn't jump up and scream "YES!!!" the way I did with the previous work.
The voices need work still. Even in this novel, coming from Erik's, Watson's, and Holmes' perspectives, the sometimes switching of the voices without warning took a little adjusting to. At least it didn't feel jarring, though, so I'll give it that.
Despite this, I still feel that this was a fantastically gripping story. You know, the kind that you stay up until two in the morning to finish. I really enjoyed seeing Erik again, and this time seeing him as just Erik and not the Phantom. I love how he showed the somewhat volatile but lovable man beneath the mask, something we only got hints of before. I absolutely adored how he never left Holmes' side as the detective battled the evil within himself. I wish I could say the same for Watson, but I don't believe it would have fitted his character.
And it's got me wanting to reach for the next one (which, to my knowledge, isn't out yet), to find out what happens to Holmes as he recovers and what will happen with Moriarty, as we got hints of something coming with him.
I can't wait to read Workman's next one!


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review: Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau by Guy Adams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sigh. Not a good book to end Project Sherlock on. You just can't win them all.
I half-expected this book to disappoint me. Over the course of this endeavor, I've come across books that really just flew off the edge of common sense and face planted in the world of the ridiculous. I've come across some select books that were absolute gems, but the key word here is "select".
The worst part is that it starts off fantastically as bodies wash up in random places and Holmes is called to investigate. How Watson was roped into a false sense of security only to be stabbed in the back and taken away by the villain was a nice touch. Kane was kind of funny, once I saw who he really was. It was nice to see Professor Challenger in there, as a nod to another ACD work.
But Holmes said something to the effect that Moreau's army was just the remains of his experimentation being exploited by a mastermind and he was right. When half-human half-animal hybrids came into the mix, I knew we were headed for the ridiculous and I dreaded it. Why do you think it took me so long to finish it?
The climax did not feel very tense, I didn't feel worried about any main characters being hurt (as we only knew very little about them, they weren't needed all that much), and I really wanted to see some more closure in dealing with Moreau's successor. So they laid a stupidly simple trap and all Holmes had to do was lock him in a room. Woohoo, that's so exciting...... not. The way Kane was handled was just stupid. Yeah, I expected him to be a Pit bull, not a puppy! Sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but that is about the worst thing an author can do: resolve something that is supposed to be terrifying by ending it with a joke. This author should be forced to watch the Sherlock episode The Hounds of Baskerville before he's allowed to handle dogs again.
It's such a shame. This had potential. But it just did not seem like a Holmesian case and was not very grounded in reality at all, something that I have come to expect from good Holmes pastiches.
Oh, and just a little advice for anyone writing a Holmes pastiche.

After all, you don't want to get carried away.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Closing in....

Sherlock Holmes is one of the greatest literary characters of all time. With all of the Holmes adaptations being made and the reawakening of the Sherlockian/Holmesian fanbase in the 21st century, and with the BBC's own take on Holmes (Sherlock) under my belt, I began searching for other love letters to the great detective in literature. I set out at first to see what dimensions, what scenarios could other writers dare to put the detective in. Some attempts at honoring Conan Doyle's sleuth were well-researched, engaging, and original, while others were unfortunately boring, flat, even damaging to this dynamic character.
Throughout this project, there have been pastiches that were so bad that I considered giving up on the venture altogether. There have also been pastiches that made me want to jump up and scream "Yes!!!!!!!" upon completing them, that made me feel excited to continue. It is the ones that made me jump up that propelled me to push forward.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Well, after going through my shelf, I realized that I have read fourteen Holmes pastiches. I've never had a goal number of books for this project, but I think it's time to close this with one final book as I begin to compile a list that will show my ranking of all of the novels from the best pastiche being #1 and the worst being #15.
This list will probably take a long time to complete, since I will probably be revisiting some of the older books to see where they fit. I will update the project with one final review when I can and hopefully have the list done and posted in the coming months. After the final review, the project will be complete. Please be aware that if I read any other pastiches in the future, they will not be tagged under Project Sherlock, but they will be tagged under Sherlock Holmes.
Final review to come!


Monday, September 26, 2016

Your Stars

Sometimes I wish I could sip the stars. My breathing labored, I hold you in my arms. You gaze upon the stars in my eyes as the world tilts on its axis and we want to fly, for we are children of this starry night. I breathe in the scent of your overly long coat as you take in the night's perfume and the song of the crickets. We are one, yet somewhere a clock tolls midnight as we take each other hand in hand and fly about the world. Why am I one with you and yet still one with the stars? Why, when I weep, are my tears gold and yours silver? Why are we, as children, being thrust into the unforgiving forest of the night and being left to our own devices? Why does it hurt to grow up? Will I ever regain the child's eye again?
Who am I, while you hold a flower made of stars and gaze upon my eyes filled with tears? Who are you?
We are one, yet we are many, and as we dance about the wind, you hold me ever so gently in your arms. I kiss you, and my lips hold you still in my arms. We are one, yet we are no one compared to the enormity of the world around us. We are still children, and the world is prepared to show us the realities of adult life. I don't feel ready, but you hold on to the innocence I fear losing as the world thrusts me into its arms. I get ready to kiss you goodbye, but you stop me.... you melt into the sky and all that is left of you is a trail of stars.
As I miss holding you, your stars float into my coat pocket and caress my shoulder. And I kiss them as you remind me that I will never be alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Nerd's Thoughts on Nature and Man

I've been thinking a lot about this quote from my favorite book:

"El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so."

In the story "The Blessing of El-ahrairah" from Richard Adams' Watership Down, the rabbits' god Frith says this to the leader of the rabbits, going on to say that the world will instead be his enemy. What I'm thinking is maybe this can be applied to humans as well. We are animals that possess the highest form of brain capacity known, the capacity of organized conscious thought and the ability to act on that. We use this higher thought capacity to a much larger extent compared to other animals. Yet we are still in the same situation as the rabbit, even though it may seem to be the other way around.


Nature rules the life of the rabbit and, despite the advances made in the past and those that continue to be made even today, the life of man. Think of Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine. Despite how powerful the human race is, nature rules our lives, too. And whether you believe a god is responsible for that order, the brutal power of the natural world and the environment surpasses the power of man, no question.

Richard Adams took the human creation myth and put rabbits in place of humans to make a point. We are powerful, yes, but we are far from omniscient and infallible. We were given flaws and obstacles in the world to prove this, yet I feel to an extent we ignore it. Personally, if I'd never read this book I never would have thought of it! And I'm ashamed of that.

No matter how powerful we seem, that power only extends so far and, despite what we believe about ourselves and our power, nature will always run the show for every race on earth.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: Rendezvous at the Populaire - A Novel of Sherlock Holmes

Rendezvous at the Populaire - A Novel of Sherlock Holmes Rendezvous at the Populaire - A Novel of Sherlock Holmes by Kate Workman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"My dear friend, you cannot best me. You may kill me, but my spirit will not be taken down by a mere mortal. And that is precisely what you are."
Sometimes, even a machine like Sherlock Holmes may break down. Sometimes, life is unfair to those who live it. And sometimes you just have to overcome it. This take on the renowned detective was surprisingly refreshing and I enjoyed it immensely.
It was a little difficult to follow at times due to my being used to Watson always narrating, so Holmes' narration took a little getting used to. In this story, a terrible accident disables Holmes so that he walks with a cane throughout the story. Seeing his perspective on how people treat him due to his disability absolutely broke my heart, given my experience with my own disability. A disability can wound you in more ways than one...
The story was fantastic. Despite Holmes not being at his best (which I blame on the accident), the phantom was an amazing antagonist to engage both Holmes and Dr. Watson. Being threatening, wounded, and as a result one whose mental prowess matches that of Holmes makes his character as amazing as the infamous Moriarty. And how both Holmes and the Phantom were able to fully understand one another's deformities and the emotional impact such deformities could cause was extremely well done.
However, this novel did have some shortcomings, which I will outline.
First of all, the scenario surrounding Holmes' accident doesn't hold out entirely to me. If they were being chased by Moriarty or his men, what happened to the scenario at the Reichenbach Falls? At what point in time was this, before or after the incident? What happened to Moriarty?
Also, although I understand that his identity wasn't the main issue of the story, I would have preferred the Phantom's identity remain a mystery for a little while instead of most people knowing who he was right off the bat. Maybe I missed something, since I've never seen The Phantom of the Opera.
Overall, it was one of the better Holmes pastiches I've read and one that I am not likely to forget anytime soon.



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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two personas that have no idea of each other's existence reside in the same man. Oh, God....
Bob Arctor is both a user and seller of Substance Death.... Fred is a law enforcer who monitors Arctor's activities as part of his job. He watches Arctor's slow descent into addiction. The only issue? Fred and Arctor are the same person.
I will admit that, upon starting this one, I was not enthralled. I did not feel like I just had to finish it, but I didn't want to DNF it either. Something just drew me back to it, although I don't exactly know what that thing was. I've read a lot of P.K. Dick in the past and I honestly think this one of his best. The ending had a twist that threw me for a loop and the foreshadowing during that part was nicely done. And the novel finally had me enthralled.
This is one of Dick's that's not to miss... just be sure to bring a box of tissues....



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Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I couldn't.... I just couldn't with this one.
Honestly, I was just so incredibly bored with it. The Nazis have effectively won WWII and the world is in the grips of tyrannical dictatorship.... or, at least, I thought it would be, but the world felt totally normal. I just didn't feel much oppression that this version of our world is supposedly feeling. Maybe if P.K. Dick had set this from a slave's point of view, or a hidden Jew, or shown a scenario involving how these people are poorly treated or in hiding... something.
And I honestly couldn't see how any person lived, Jew, Japanese, German... it all felt normal with little tension of oppression and with the jumping to different characters that were not fleshed out enough, I couldn't learn anything about them and therefore empathize with them. Having read Station Eleven, I know that it's possible to go back and forth from different POVs and flesh out the characters you zoom in on for the moment, so they have their time on the page and the reader cares about them.

After reading this, I'm disappointed in Philip K. Dick. He's written some great, thought-provoking stuff, but was unfortunately not on point here.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Important Update on Project: Watership Down!

I'm late in saying this, but the recording process for Project: Watership Down is complete! Honestly, before I sat down in front of the microphone for the final recording session, a sob seized my throat. I felt so proud, so overjoyed, to have finished the first and most critical step of this project. Now I'm finished playing pretend with these brave rabbits and it has been an eye-opener for me. I just felt so happy when recording, for the briefest time I was able to experience this story the way it had originally been told... and if I wasn't in love with the story before, I am head over heels in love now! Reading it aloud, somehow, added another layer of magic to this epic tale and brought me from my small suburban home to England's beautiful countryside! And I am absolutely thrilled that I got it done before I start college.... I was really worried about that. Time to move on from the mic and into the editing phase of the project....

More updates to come!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Stranger to the Ground

Stranger to the Ground Stranger to the Ground by Richard Bach
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can't believe I'm DNF'ing this. I usually love Richard Bach. But this was not his best. Really, it wasn't.
This story follows Dick as he joins the Air Force in a "lonely duel with death". Yes, that is what the synopsis said. But it didn't feel that way. Usually, if Bach isn't doing much in the story, he's pondering bigger questions and that makes up for nothing happening at the moment. Here, there was none of that. It was all focused on the machinery and how these planes can survive battle. And that's not what I love Bach for, I love him for his Zen-like prose and, like I said, that was absent from this story.
I hate giving this book a bad review. I feel like it's more the circumstances under which I read this that are to blame for me not enjoying it, but I can't give it a positive rating and then tell how I really feel in the review. Honestly, if you're new to Bach, don't start with this book, go for something like Running from Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit. He is a great writer, but this book is definitely his weakest.


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Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Favorite Things

My favorite singer did a post like this on his blog once, so I figured I'd try and compile a list of my favorite things. They are not rated from most favorite to least favorite, but I will separate them by category. Here we go: 

Books 
1. Watership Down by Richard Adams 
2. Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann 
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
4. Flowers for Algernon (novel) by Daniel Keyes 
5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 
6. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz 
7. The Seven Per-cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer 
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 
9. Richard Bach novels 
10. The Terrorist's Son by Zak Ebrahim 

Movies 
1. Watership Down (1978)
2. Hugo 
3. Hawking 
4. The Theory of Everything 
5. The Great Mouse Detective 
6. The Blind Side 
7. Dave 

Television Shows 
1. Sherlock 
2. Gravity Falls 
3. Cutthroat Kitchen 

Comedy 
1. Jeff Dunham 
2. Andre and Cirell 
3. Sheldon Cooper 

Music 
1. Adam Young Scores 
2. Owl City 
3. Port Blue 
4. Windsor Airlift 

Songs
1. Southampton (A. Young Scores)
2. Hot Air Balloon (Owl City) 
3. Bird with a Broken Wing (Owl City)
4. Seagulls (Port Blue) 
5. Wheels Down (A. Young Scores) 
6. Lunar Liftoff (A. Young Scores)
7. Splashdown (A. Young Scores) 
8. Hope (Windsor Airlift) 
9. Viva la Vida (Coldplay) 
10. Bright Eyes (Adam Young's cover) 

People 
1. Adam Young 
2. Carly Fleischmann 
3. Malala Yousafzai 
4. Jeff Dunham 
5. Benedict Cumberbatch 
6. Martin Freeman 
7. Andrew Scott 
8. Stephen Hawking 

*In regard to the "People" category, these people are the ones who I feel are either amazing at something they do or inspire me in some way. Some are great at what they do and inspire me.*

So, yeah. These are my favorite things and they make my life a little brighter or inspire me or both and I love them for that. 



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Watership Down 2017 Remake

So I know I have been tending to talk a lot about Watership Down lately, but I have something I just have to get off my chest.

It's regarding the 2017 remake.

I've been reading a lot on the remake lately and, while most details at this point are vague at best, there's one detail that I cannot get off of my mind and it's that they are planning to tone down the violence in an attempt to make it kid-friendly! 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop right there. This is the idea that has been bothering me for the last hour - and that's just in today's timeframe! I've been mulling over this for a couple of months. Why in God's - um, Frith's - name would you tone down the violence of a war story and deny yourself the opportunity to show the sometimes-brutal realism that made this story great in the first place? Why deny yourself the opportunity to teach today's children that, while nature is cruel, it is beautiful in spite of the cruelty? Notice how I cannot write that sentence without the word "cruel".


Because, yes, some acts committed by characters in this epic are cruel. Some characters suffer terrible pain, but learn from this pain and in the meantime the viewer sees that pain can teach lessons of great value. And the only cost is some bloody violence that, while it may make an impression on a really young mind (say, a five year old) that could be lasting, I think viewers older than ten could see it and the impression not be as strong for them. I could be wrong on the numbers, but my point is that I think people are overreacting to the first film's violence.

Overall, despite a rather melancholy feel that accompanied the 1978 film, Watership Down is a story that is great because it exposes the viewer to a reality that we can't shelter them from forever. I honestly feel that the parents were more traumatized by the film than their children!

After channel five aired the film on Easter Sunday and the complaints started rolling in, I couldn't help but laugh. Why? Because the complaints were all about the impact the movie had on the adults - not their children - as it took to the screen once again. Not one parent complained that their child wept or saw something that they couldn't stomach - no, the complaints were all centered on the older audience, teens being the youngest of the group, being horrified by a story that was never meant to be all fluffy and cute in the first place!

I mean, honestly, toning down the violence of this story would take away a crucial part of the action and in the end not show what the book is really about.

Despite all of this, I'm still planning to watch the new adaptation, but I doubt at this point that I'm going to like it. I really wish it would just air already so I can put my worries to rest and either praise it - or never watch it again. We shall see where this goes.






Friday, July 8, 2016

The Thing with Adapting Stories

So I'm sitting here in a restaurant and thinking about Watership Down and how beautiful its cover is. This is reminding me of the 2011 Lifeline theatre production of the novel. I wish I could have seen it, because I heard it was good. Seeing it on stage is something on my bucket list after seeing a clip from Lifeline. It looks like it is a good adaptation. The clip was of Hazel trying to come to terms with General Woundwort and stop his attack on Watership and it was nearly word-for-word what was actually said during the encounter. Not to mention that the man playing Woundwort was stellar in the scene. I was a little afraid of him by the end of the clip!
Sometimes adaptations of classic stories don't turn out well. I've always wondered about why there may be drastic changes from novel to screen or vice versa....
I know there are usually legitimate reasons in adaptations that clearly work hard to remain faithful. But sometimes I feel that those adapting the original work to another form of media try too hard to put their own twist on things and the original story is lost in translation.
Take the Percy Jackson film series for a second, okay? I read The Lightning Thief when I was twelve and didn't like it much. I won't go into why, but when I'd heard of all the changes they'd made for the film, I was disappointed. As much as I didn't like the book, I hate seeing written work be disrespected. For example, Annabeth not being blonde in the first film is excusable, since it doesn't affect overall plot, but Percy battling Luke instead of Ares? That's a change I can't wrap my head around. Why was that change needed?
Now, getting back to Watership Down, there was a TV series that ran from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Responding to criticism from the animated film, it was a watered down (pun totally intended) version that took care of the majority of the story from the novel in the first ten episodes. The events were also twisted to meet parental standards (I personally don't care how many parents would have called sexism on the show, Blackberry being a doe was unacceptable). Another twisted event that comes to mind is why was Hyzenthlay's story changed to involve another warren?
Honestly, stuff like this boggles my mind. I'm terrified of how the 2017 Watership remake could turn out. Please, God, have them respect the written word...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Titanic

Titanic Titanic by Filson Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They said she was unsinkable. They said she was paradise. She turned out to be a fool's paradise.
I'll admit that the only reason that I read this book was because my favorite singer is releasing his own "film scores" based on historical events, and the sinking of the Titanic happened to be the second score released by him. He told a story, all right, but I wanted to know more. So when I found this book on iBooks (for free) I picked it up immediately.
This one took me longer than it would usually take me to read a book this length due to my lately-busy life, but I enjoyed the journey it took me on. I almost felt as if I were a passenger aboard the ship and I understood the allure of this sunken paradise and understood why people thought it infallible. As someone who has been on two cruises in her life, I remember also feeling that the ship sinking would be near impossible (I was on the same ship both times).
I think that the main reason that she is so well-remembered and so mourned is because her sinking was a wake-up call for more safety measures on cruise ships (i.e. more lifeboats)! They say that every once in a while nature wakes us up and reminds us that the human race is ruled by nature and not the other way around.
A beautifully tragic story that shows the fragility of life.

Just so you can see it for yourself, this is the cover art for the album that inspired me to read this book.


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